Co-parenting: what it feels like

Co-parenting can be tough, monumentally tough.

First,  there are the inconsistencies in our parenting approach: daddy lets Cygnet eat lollipops; kick a ball in the house; not brush his teeth; takes him swimming when he has green snot coming out of his nose; lets him have a three hour nap in the afternoon when he is due to return to mummy in the evening. 

The three hour-long afternoon nap saga is a particular irritant for me at the moment.  Cygnet is going through a particularly difficult sleep phase (please let it just be a phase!).  He will only go to sleep when I lie with my arms around him on his bedroom floor until he falls asleep.  When Cygnet has had a 45 minute nap in the middle of the day this routine lasts twenty minutes or so – that’s fine. When daddy has let Cygnet sleep for three hours in the late afternoon this routine can last for hours.  I’ve discussed this with daddy but daddy protests that Cygnet always sleeps perfectly for him.  He goes down in his cot at 7pm and sleeps through until 7am. 

I don’t know whether to believe him.

Then there’s the stuff I really struggle to get my head around.  I struggle with the idea of daddy’s new girlfriend, her two kids, and the time they spend as a happy family of five.  I know, I know, I’ve read your blended family blogs and I know that blended family life can be tough.  With a blended family with three young children you can guarantee that at any given time at least one of the children will be having a tantrum. I know that the happy family of five is an image rather than reality. 


But it is human for us to torture ourselves and I torture myself with this happy family image which includes my son but doesn’t involve me as his mother. 

And thirdly, there’s the fact that sometimes Cygnet really does enjoy spending time with his daddy. They go in the carrier on daddy’s bike, they play football in the park and they jump on daddy’s bed.  At first I really struggled with this.  I told myself that Cygnet preferred his daddy to me – yes I was torturing myself again!  Now that Cygnet is a little older the two of us can communicate a bit better.  Cygnet can let me know he loves me and that he wants me and that he wants cuddles and laughs and we have fun together.  Those hours lying on the floor in our tender embrace are painful for my hips but good for my confidence in my role as a mother.

When I started on this co-parenting journey I believed that for it to work my ex and I needed to be good friends.  That felt unachievable because (and I can say this on an anonymous blog) my ex is a tosser, he lacks morals and integrity and we have totally opposing values in life.  These became very apparent in the latter stages of our relationship and left some deep scars.  It will be a long time before we are ever good friends, or indeed friends at all.

I felt that I was failing at this whole co-parenting thing because I couldn’t see how we could ever be friends.  I was torturing myself again!

But now I have come to realise that friendship, in the short term at least, is unrealistic. What is important is that we can cooperate as parents and that we have respect for each other’s roles.  Despite the inconsistencies in our parenting approach, we are able to present an amicable façade in front of our son. 

In spite of everything, I think we are doing okay at this co-parenting thing.   

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
Reflections From Me


  1. May 29, 2016 / 10:29 pm

    I love how honestly and beautifully you write. I have no experience of this so can’t offer any words of advice but I can offer support and reassure you that our doing an amazing job! My bubba went through a phases of being all about daddy and I felt so redundant so I can only imagine how your feeling xxxx
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    • thesingleswan
      May 30, 2016 / 8:51 pm

      Thank you Ami. I really appreciate it. xx

  2. May 30, 2016 / 7:04 am

    That sounds extremely difficult – it must be very hard to be so permanently linked to someone who treated you so abominably and continues to offer you such a lack of support. I’m sure your boy will grow up knowing he can rely on you for fun times and everyday times, and if he must spend this time with his dad, I’m sure you are grateful that he enjoys himself there.
    x Alice
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    • thesingleswan
      May 30, 2016 / 8:50 pm

      Hi Alice, thanks very much for your supportive comment. He does have fun with his Dad and I need to keep reminding myself of this. It feels a bit shit at the moment, but it is getting a lot better and I am sure it will continue to get easier…slowly. thank you again. Pen x

  3. May 30, 2016 / 2:39 pm

    Well done you for writing what you did without swearing! Hats off to you and a huge pat on the back for doing what is a blooming hard job. I don’t think I could be so restrained if I had to co parent with my boys birth father, thank god I don’t. The day he rocks back up wanting to be the hero is the day I dread. Any hoo, yes the phase of cuddling to sleep for hours is just a phase, I went through it and it does stop:)) Mainy xx

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    • thesingleswan
      May 30, 2016 / 8:43 pm

      Thank you Mainy. I hope you are well. Loads of love. Pen x

  4. May 30, 2016 / 3:43 pm

    Oh bless you, this must be so hard, but I am certain that you are a fantastic mother and I’m sure that as Cygnet grows older things will work out just fine. #KCACOLS
    Min recently posted…Single Women: Bitter and Lonely?My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      May 30, 2016 / 8:42 pm

      THanks sweetheart. pen x

  5. May 31, 2016 / 2:05 am

    This is an incredibly honest post. And as a former single mom, an incredibly mature way of handling things. You are doing fine Mama, and while it hurts at times, the fact that you can be decent to one and other in front of your kiddo is more than many in this world can say! #fartglitter
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    • thesingleswan
      June 1, 2016 / 7:26 pm

      Thank you Allyson, I appreciate it. Pen x

  6. May 31, 2016 / 5:01 pm

    Brilliantly written. I am in a similar situation my eldest child spends 50% of his time with his dad my ex husband. It has taken me ages to get my head around it all and I totally hear where you are coming from. Great post sending a hug x #fartglitter x
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    • thesingleswan
      June 1, 2016 / 7:25 pm

      Thank you Mrs T. I appreciate it. Loads of love. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      June 1, 2016 / 7:24 pm

      Thanks Mac, as always I appreciate it. Pen x

  7. June 1, 2016 / 4:06 am

    Sounds like you’re making the best of a tough situation. My wife and I have occasional disagreements about parenting and we’re in a loving relationship. I can’t imagine having to navigate these waters with someone you don’t even like very much. Best of luck with it!

    Mama, My Kid Doesn’t Poop Rainbows recently posted…The #FartGlitter Linky: Week Twenty SevenMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      June 1, 2016 / 7:24 pm

      Thank you for your support. Yes, I have to keep reminding myself that even those in a loving relationship have disagreements over parenting. Parenting challenges are not unique to single parents! Thanks again. Pen x

  8. June 3, 2016 / 10:12 am

    I love the honesty and openess in this post. Co-parenting must be extremely hard, and it sounds like you’re actually doing a great job at dealing with it. I think realising that you don’t have to be friends with your ex to make it work is a big step. As long as you can be civil and don’t take badly about each other to your son then it’s all good. I would be fuming about the late, 3 hour naps though! x #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      June 4, 2016 / 10:13 pm

      Thanks Madeline. I appreciate it. Pen x x

  9. June 4, 2016 / 2:55 pm

    Sounds like you are managing the co-parenting better than anticipating. It must be so hard to get to that stage but I also understand that when you have this disagreements with your ex, it really destroys all the hard work that you have done so far. I hope things get even better and your ex stopped putting Cygnet on naps of 3 hrs. Thanks so much for sharing this #KCACOLS. Hope to see you again tomorrow, 🙂 xx
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    • thesingleswan
      June 4, 2016 / 10:13 pm

      Hi Franca,

      thanks so much for your comment. I appreciate it. I will be back tomorrow. #KCACOLS is quite my favourite linky. Pen x

  10. June 8, 2016 / 9:10 pm

    Sounds really hard work. I sometimes feel lucky that my ex is so useless as to not really have any contact with my son as it means I get to avoid all this. Sounds like you’re doing a fab job though. I think you’re right friendship might be unachievable but you can, and are, putting on a brave face for your little one. Well done! x
    Ellamentalmama recently posted…Colour Coding ChildrenMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      June 9, 2016 / 8:12 pm

      Thank you Ella. It is lovely to see you here. Loads of love. Pen x

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